Happy International Women’s Day everyone! This year’s theme is ‘Be Bold for Change’. The day is meant to be used as a tool for change; a tool to promote and work towards a world where all genders are equal. Essentially, a call for everyone to help forge a better, more inclusive working world. It is a worldwide event which started circa 1908 (today it’s the 106th IWD) and celebrates all female identifying peoples’ achievements.
The reason it still exists today is because full gender equality has not been realised- women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women’s education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men. Aaand the World Economic Forum predicts that the gender pay gap won’t close until 2186. In light of the day, we asked all the office…
“What does it mean to be a working woman in 2017?”
“When I was 21, I was told to wear more makeup at work – in fact, it was [unofficially] part of my probation criteria. In that meeting, I hung my head low, muttered something to the tune of ‘OK’ and basically did what I was told. I passed probation. A decade later, and I’m pretty sure my response to such instruction would be very, VERY different to my former, shyer, younger, less-confident self. Sexism at work isn’t yet a thing of the past. However, the attitude towards it is massively shifting and there’s less tolerance of such archaic principles. The next step is to recognise the limitations of language if we’re to rid ourselves of the concept of what it means to be a “woman” and what it means to be a “man”. I think that definitions of “male” and “female” can inadvertently further divide the sexes; the discourse creates this idea of an “us and them”. Quotas are potentially doing the same thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just treat everyone equally, regardless of gender, race, religion…? And that kinda thinking demonstrates why I’m in PR and not politics! What I will say is – I don’t think being a woman has ever got in the way of something I personally and professionally set out to achieve. But maybe that’s because I’m a bit of a fiery so-and-so and wouldn’t have it any other way!”
“The most remarkable gap between men and women is still in the world of work. Thanks to many inspiring workplaces offering an abundance of equal opportunities, like the one I am lucky enough to call my occupational home, this gap is becoming ever smaller. I’m very grateful and honored to be surrounded by strong, motivated men and women, as part of such an innovative organisation.”
“To many, International Women’s Day 2017 means a #DayWithoutAWoman, as strikes are planned across 30 countries in a demonstration of solidarity with all women and gender-oppressed people. Women still receive lower wages, experience greater inequalities and have less job security than men. Women are still the primary care-givers and carry out the emotional labour of relationships. It might not be realistic to strike on Women’s Day, but perhaps it’s someone else’s turn to do the food shopping, remember the birthdays or make the tea round?
We’ve come a long way for women at work in 2017, but we have a long way to go.”
“As a young woman working in a Western country, and as someone who has never experienced gender-based violence or gross systematised oppression, I feel that my position in the world of work is very fortunate. Having said that, I believe that women in this country are still oppressed by patriarchal structures, often structures and systems which are so engrained in the fabric of society that we cannot see them. Without launching into a full-blown thesis on the subject (perhaps I’ll do this in the future) I’ll just say that I hope to see a future where we are no longer having the same conversations around gender equality. The internet has allowed so many more women to have a platform, whilst improvements in the way we educate both boys and girls on the subject has also advanced the cause. I’m confident that in my lifetime we will see total gender equality within the workplace.
To be a working woman in 2017 means continuing to push for a more equal and progressive workplace, where colleagues are acknowledged and remunerated based on merit and not their gender. I also feel it’s important to acknowledge all the progress that has been made, so that we can continue to strive for more.
“It means having the luxury of choice: in how high you want to progress and how hard you want to work; in what profession you choose; in what you wear; and in how you combine your professional and personal commitments. Even as little as 20 years ago, that was dictated to women, now there is far more choice.
“Being a working woman in the UK in 2017 means having more possibilities than ever before and being able to hold positions of authority with less resistance. Considering the fight it has taken to arrive to this point, I am grateful, whilst simultaneously frustrated by the huge inequality we still live with in today’s modern society. A mere 21% of senior positions are filled by women in the UK. The gender pay gap is closing at a rate of 0.2% per year. We’re going in the right direction, but the fight is far from won.”
Join the conversation over on Twitter by using the hashtag #InternationalWomensDay !